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Best foot forward

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Best foot forward Best foot forward

Our hard surfaces are wiped, our hands are scrubbed raw, we're laminated and shiny, our jewellery is off, our hand gel on. Our stocks are sorted and coded. Our fridges are locked and bolted, cleaned religiously inside and out, the temperatures gauged, the vaccines treated with tender care. Our treatment rooms are squeaky clean and pristine. The commissioners are serious people.

I don't like the commissioners coming. Their Ofsted-like approach is threatening. But Ofsted does ensure that children nationwide are receiving a certain standard of education and in the same way, the commissioners are ensuring certain levels of care are delivered.

Recently, I visited a relative in hospital. Reflecting after the visit, I realised I'd been closely watching the nurses to see if they washed their hands properly, if they smiled, if they listened to my relative. I was waiting to catch them out. I was doing what the commissioners do. I was looking for below-par care.

Negativity in the NHS is rife, confidence and trust have been lost, and although initiatives are being introduced to regain the public's trust, there is a long way to go. We can strive to offer optimum care, but everyone has their own image of what is acceptable or not.

On the ward where my relative was being cared for there was a nurse who wore purple reflective glasses. These were fun, not necessary glasses. On a busy medical ward I thought them inappropriate but another relative may have been heartened by her hippy-happy approach. Evaluation of health carers by patients and relatives is emotive and subjective.

We often deal with individuals who don't want to be there. They have not chosen to have a chronic disease or illness, and they don't take our advice kindly. We are the metaphorical cat they try to kick.

As professionals we should have the confidence to know we have acted in the patients' best interests. It is worth remembering that even with the best care available gauged by commissioners you can't please all the people all the time.

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